Orange, a telecommunications company that operates in Africa and the Middle East, has announced the opening of its first ever Orange Digital Centre for Africa and the Middle East in Tunis, Tunisia. According to Orange, the centre will provide train Tunisian youth in coding, and provide acceleration and investment in early-stage startups.

In attendance at the launch of the Orange Digital Centre for Africa was Anouar Maarouf, Tunisian Minister of Communication Technologies and the Digital Economy, Abdelkoddous Saadaoui, Tunisian Secretary of State for Youth, Alioune Ndiaye, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Middle East and Africa, Christine Albanel, Senior Executive Vice-President of CSR, Diversity, Partnerships and Philanthropy and Deputy Chair of the Orange Foundation, and Thierry Millet, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Tunisia.

“I am very proud to launch the first Orange Digital Centre in Tunis. By the end of this year, we will set-up similar centres in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. From 2020 onwards, Morocco, Egypt and the rest of the countries in the Middle East and Africa region will have their own Orange Digital Centre. Dedicated to our countries’ digital development, these new spaces aim to consolidate Orange’s standing as a key player in the digital transformation of the countries where we operate. Functioning as a network, these sites favour sharing experiences and expertise in a way that will benefit not just entrepreneurs but also students, young people with or without degrees, and young people undertaking a career change. We will therefore work in close collaboration with all our stakeholders, including governments and academics, to strengthen the employability of these young people and to encourage them to run businesses and to innovate,” said Alioune Ndiaye, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Middle East and Africa.

Orange launches its first “Orange Digital Centre” in Tunisia.

The rise of startups in Africa

Digital startups in Africa have been receiving a lot of attention in recent years. Although the venture capital investment numbers are debatable, digital startups in Africa have seen icreasing year on year investment numbers, a good signal. Added to that, there has been a mushrooming of technology and innovation related hubs across the continent as well.

As far as the Orange Digital Centre is concerned, it will incorporate four strategic programmes, namely:

+ The coding school, a freely accessible and totally free-of-charge technological centre that offers training and events for the community of young developers, geeks and people with ideas for projects. It is particularly aimed at students, young graduates and young entrepreneurs.

+ The FabLab Solidaire, a digital production workshop for creating and prototyping with digital equipment, such as 3D printers, milling machines and laser cutters. It brings together both young people who are unemployed and have no qualifications as well as students, young graduates and young entrepreneurs.

+ Orange Fab, a startup accelerator with an aim to build national and international business partnerships with the Orange Group and the international Orange Fab network. This programme helps improve managerial capabilities and provides support for the commercial development of promising startups, and it is mainly aimed at entrepreneurs.

+ Orange Digital Ventures Africa, a 50-million euro investment fund for financing innovative startups in Africa and the Middle East (fintech, e-health, energy, edutech and govtech), and it targets entrepreneurs.

“Orange Tunisia’s commitment to young people, ever since its launch, is a real success story, and four figures illustrate this perfectly. Through our programme, 16,000 young Tunisians have been trained and given support with digital technologies, 1,800 have benefited from career change work experience courses, 800 secondary school students have been taught coding and 95 % of them have been employed in Tunisia or abroad,” concluded Thierry Millet, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Tunisia.

Cover image credit: Opening of Orange Digital Centre for Africa in Tunis, Tunisia.

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